Order of Elders
United Methodist Elders: Men and Women set apart to minister through Service, Word, Sacrament and Order
The elder has primary responsibility for Word, the apostolic task of the faithful transmission of the faith and proclamation of the Word of God. For the elder, this includes primary responsibility for the preaching and teaching ministry, though preaching in Methodism has included the lay preacher, the local pastor and the associate member. The unique focus of the elder is the responsibility for administration of the sacraments and the ordering of the ministry of the church. For most elders, this will be lived out as the pastor in charge of a local congregation, but the elder’s ministry is not restricted to the parish. They may be appointed to extension ministries (¶343), serving in a variety of settings. Because elders have been ordained to ordering the ministry of the church and administering the Discipline, bishops and district superintendents are chosen from ordained elders. Elders lead and serve the whole church in ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Order.
Generally, a candidate for ordination as elder holds a bachelor’s or equivalent degree from a college or university and has completed the major work toward a Master of Divinity or equivalent degree from a school of theology or seminary. After educational requirements are complete, a candidate is commissioned and then serves a three-year probationary period, which is considered a trial period leading to full membership in the annual conference. For information about the Order of Elders in the Baltimore-Washington Conference please contact Melissa Rudolph.
For a full description of the Order of Elders, view this PDF published by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.